By Neetu Shaw
Attention all acquiring banks, payment processors, ISOs and merchant level salespeople (MLSs): as you make your marketing and business plans for 2019, please understand that if creating a data driven culture isn't on the list, you may not see success in 2020.
There is no question that by 2020, disruptive fintech and banking models will have taken hold. A glimpse ahead shows rampant development and use of blockchain, continued rollout of biometrics, increased focus on cybersecurity, real-time personalized and automated customer experiences, and innovative cognitive and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies at play.
Consider, too, that the amount of data is increasing exponentially: contactless payments, the Internet of Things, mobility, and social and digital avenues are all a part of this influx of data. But tomorrow's successful payments companies cannot use that data for business intelligence purposes without undergoing a broad digital culture transformation first.
You need a real plan – a road map for change readiness to create a data driven culture. The term "data driven culture" was defined by Brent Dykes in an Oct. 26, 2017, Forbes article as "an operating environment that seeks to leverage data whenever and wherever possible to enhance business efficiency and effectiveness." What that means is that going forward you must live and breathe the data. It needs to be an integrated, hardwired cornerstone of your company's culture.
Today's data-driven world is too big for Excel spreadsheets. We need automated systems making decisions based on concrete facts and numbers. Why? Because it empowers both businesses and their customers. And when that combination occurs, a business is primed for success.
Yes, you need to obtain the right technology and hire smart talent, but those actions are not step one. Tools and people won't necessarily guarantee the transformation that needs to occur within your organization to ensure success. Additionally, defining a clear strategy on paper can lead to meaningful success measures and key performance indicators, but it won't necessarily propel people to regularly rely on metrics. It needs to be a true cultural shift with customer centricity as the goal.
Acquiring banks, processors, ISOs, MLSs and others on the payments value chain in 2019 will need to embrace a true data driven culture to realize dynamic customer insights. There is no doubt that executing (or not) a customer centricity data insights culture will define the winners (or losers).
This reinvention needs to be focused on creating over-arching customer-centric digital platforms that take advantage of all of the customer data merchant service providers rely on. Here too, AI, next-gen chat bots and machine learning will play a pivotal role in making seamless, automated customer experiences real. But you can't do that without an internal culture that supports it.
If you do not make strong, concerted efforts to create a data driven culture focused on customer centricity in 2019, it's almost certain your merchant portfolios will shrink. It's not easy. Only 32 percent of companies that aspire to a data driven culture say they have been successful in creating one, according to NewVantage Partners' 2018 Big Data Executive Survey. Cultural resistance to change is the biggest reason.
Flipping your organization on its head as you look to make it more customer centric and data driven will be a process. You will have to undo decades of legacy technologies, learn to understand data and rationalize the shift for entrenched skeptics. But there is no other option, not anymore. It's time to embrace change.
Neetu Shaw is an executive partner at Clarity Insights, servicing the financial services, insurance, higher education and automotive industry verticals. She is focused on enterprise information and digital transformation solutions, enterprise data, big data, master data management, discovery, advanced analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) thought-leadership. Clarity Insights is the largest consulting company in the United States that focuses exclusively on advanced data, cloud and AI solutions. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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